25 March 2009

My Job

Two months ago, I was thinking about buying a ticket to Salt Lake. Then I looked at my bank account and got scared. After securing a job interview at a kindergarten, I felt confident to do what I'd been thinking of for a while: I walked into the English school that has been opened next door to my apartment building and asked if they needed teachers.

A few days later, they called me to fill in for other teachers, a job which I quite enjoyed. I signed a freelancer contract and was offered a good wage because of my bachelor's degree. After accepting a permanent class, guiltily letting go of the offered kindergarten job, and learning that I really disliked teaching the kids' courses, I was soon helping people sign contracts on open-house days. Now I have five of my own adult courses every week, plus the time I spend in the office and filling in for other teachers.

The company has two offices. The one next door is brand new and hip (and its convenient location is awesome for someone who likes to do their writing at home):

When you walk into the building, this is what the hallway looks like (I love this about German apartment buildings):

Here's the first view after entering the language school (I really like the flower sticker):

This is the main classroom (roomy and light, but chilly--okay, not as chilly as my apartment):

Another view of the same room (notice the Buddha on the wall and on the window shield):

The bathroom (who knows why you'd want to see this?) And those rugs bug me, they don't go at all! Oh well, have you seen my room?:

The other school is crazily huge and always filled with people and has a whole multitude of kids' courses, where kids have fun games, exciting CDs, colorful flashcards, and the like. It takes at least thirty minutes for me to get there, taking two trains.

Sometimes I ask myself, "What in the world am I doing, working as an English teacher?" First of all, in my opinion, language teaching is the excuse job for every expat. And as we all know, I don't like to be like every expat. I like to be as local as possible. This leads to the second problem. To me for the last year and a half, I've been avoiding English like the plague (except for when communicating with those who don't speak German, such as in this blog). Basically, if someone can speak German, there is never any reason to speak English with them. Ever. Even if they also have English as their first language (we can help each other, right?). So now, I am getting paid for speaking English with people with whom I could very well be speaking German. And I have to really work hard not to be super annoyed when employees talk to me in English, even though they're really nice. We've got the English-speaking areas covered: New Zealand, England, Canada, and America (Minnesota, Texas, and the others I don't know). One girl can't speak a lick of German and she's marrying a German this summer. Which reminds me--every last one of these people who have the expat excuse job also have the typical reason for expats to be here: they all married/are living with/had children with/are dating Germans. Seriously, every one of them. If I were ever to be in a relationship here I could say that I truthfully didn't come here because of a relationship, but because of a love for the land and the language, the relationship came later and as an added plus.

Another thing that makes it crazy to work there is the drama that goes on. One woman's really nice and obviously a good business woman. She just spreads stress wherever she goes and causes confusion with scheduling and keys. Then there are the salesman-like workers she keeps around, thinking they'll make up for the problems she tries to solve that others could have and would have figured out if she'd let them. Really, it just adds to the confusion, with three people showing up for a class and no one understanding what their role really is. Luckily, I haven't let it get to me the way some others have, but I'm not the one traveling across town to get there, or being told in front of parents and students, "I'm going to kill you." I listen a lot to the other employees (one who has fooooul language) and have given her some really friendly, but honest feedback that she didn't really seem to listen to. (For example, I said there should be a verbal warning and explanation before a warning letter, and she said it had to be done that way, even though nothing had ever been said about the subject.) We just have some learning to do together. That's how it is with everyone, isn't it?

But all in all, I find the people there to be enjoyable spice in the soup of life as long as I don't have to be there long. And I really like my students (okay, most of them. One older lady is always confused and who, even when I tried to help her in German when she came to a class too advanced for her, never answered). I love being paid to tell people how to fix their pronunciation, discuss differences between styles of English, and correct grammar (I do those things anyway, and when it's not polite I wish I could).

There's one class where the students agreed to have the class at a different time because they wanted to have me as the teacher, since my teaching was "livelier" (maybe they like my jokes). And my private student is awesome. We laugh a lot and have some really good conversations, such as her story about going to the Freiberg Temple open house when she was a little girl. She even had me come over to have my knee checked by her doctor hubby.

I'm so glad that my schedule there is finally semi-firm so I can get some work done on my thesis (I haven't accomplished anything in the last two months, not even my final essay for last semester). I've thought a bit about taking an online TEFL course, which would boost my wage by 2 Euros per hour. That means I'd need to teach for four months before the extra money would pay off the price of the TEFL course. Since I consider this job a temporary thing, it doesn't seem worth it. (Now I'm wondering if this is why people didn't want to get certified in genealogy at the FHL--they didn't want an excuse to stay there.) Plus, when do I have time to do a 100-hour online course?

Though not being TEFL-certified prevented me at first from getting my own permanent classes, I'm now satisfied with the amount I'm teaching. In fact, on Friday, I told them to stop calling me for Fridays because I need to have time to write my Master's thesis. Tuesday is also free of classes, and the time between classes on other days should be enough. I hope.

So, are there any questions remaining about my job?

1 comment:

  1. That sounds really sweet! Next door would be nice. I think every job I've ever had has had employee drama. Annoying, but probably a fact of life.

    I also love that flower decal sticker thing on the wall. I found an etsy shop once that sells wall decals like that but they were kind of expensive. Too bad.